Of all of the many responsibilities a family caregiver faces, perhaps one of the most daunting is managing multiple health issues. The National Council on Aging estimates that nearly ¾ of all seniors are diagnosed with at least two chronic diseases, and are seeing an average of four medical specialists.
As your aging parent’s advocate, it’s important to know how to communicate effectively with those on the senior’s medical team, and to arrive at appointments fully prepared to address any and all concerns. The following four questions to ask the doctor are a great place to start:
- Are all of these medications necessary? With most older adults taking multiple medications, you’ll want to keep a detailed list and review periodically with the doctor and also the pharmacist, both of whom should be able to ensure there aren’t any duplications prescribed by different specialists, or any contraindications between meds.
- If prescribing something new, what side effects might we expect to see? Weighing the benefits vs. the risks for any new medication is crucial, as there can be occasions when difficult side effects outweigh any positives provided. And if the doctor shares a blanket statement such as, “Most patients don’t experience any problems with this medication,” be sure to follow up to find out more about those who DO encounter problems.
- What’s the best way to reduce pain and discomfort? We’re all aware of the opioid epidemic, and the risk of addiction and other concerns that come with taking prescription pain medications. Yet unaddressed pain and discomfort can lead to both delayed healing and significant emotional stress, both for the senior experiencing pain and his or her caregivers.
- If this was your mom, what would you do? Inviting the physician to step into your shoes is often an extremely helpful way to gauge how you might want to proceed. There may, in fact, be less invasive or aggressive means to managing a problem that you might want to explore first.
- Accompanying seniors to medical appointments and procedures and ensuring that questions are answered
- Ensuring medications are taken exactly as prescribed
- Proactively monitoring for any changes in condition, such as medication side effects, and reporting them immediately
- Preparing nutritious meals and providing encouragement to stay physically active to improve health
- And much more
To get started on a better quality of life for a senior you love, simply contact our Utica home care team at 888-493-3513 to request a free in-home consultation. We provide home care services throughout eastern Wayne County and Oakland, Macomb, Lapeer, St. Clair and Port Huron counties in Michigan.